14 worms pulled from OR woman's eye

Mystery Diagnosis: Worms In The Eye

An Oregon woman who had worms coming out of her eye is being called the first known human case of a parasitic infection spread by flies.

She found the first worm in her eye in August of 2016, while she was on a fishing trip in Alaska. Until now, it has never been seen in a human eye.

"Cases of eye worm parasitic infections are rare in the USA, and this case turned out to be a species of the Thelazia that had never been reported in humans", said lead author Richard Bradbury, from the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria.

"It was shocking when it happened, and it's just fascinating now", she told the Portland Tribune on Friday, Feb. 9, from her home in Grants Pass, where she's lived for the past couple of years. Doctors there pulled out 13 more, and weren't sure what to do. Rather than give her anti-worm medication (which is often used to treat infections of this parasitic worm family in humans), the doctors opted to have them all manually extracted through tweezers and irrigation of the eye.

This comes after an incident in summer of 2016, when she discovered worms were in her left eye. The major difference being that these face flies, as they're known, love to gobble down on other animals' bodily fluids for nourishment, especially their tears, where they inadvertently pick up eye worm larvae.

The woman had been horseback riding in Gold Beach, Oregon, in a cattle farming area.

Mystery Diagnosis: Worms In The Eye
US woman first to be infected with 14 eye worms

Eye worms are seen in several kinds of animals, including cats and dogs.

Thelazia worms are spread by species of flies that look pretty much like your typical house fly.

She ended up pulling 14 worms out of her eye.

After they were removed, no more worms were found and she had no additional symptoms.

"My hope is that if this ever happens again, that someone could Google this and find all these articles now", said Beckley.

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